|VII. LATIN AMERICA PEACE OPERATIONS|
Guatemala – MINUGUA
The United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), which is expected to close in 2004, entered its final phase. The Mission continued to oversee the implementation of the 1996 United Nations-brokered peace agreement between the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca, while intensifying a transition programme designed to strengthen the country’s own capacity to carry the peace agenda forward and minimize the potential impact of the Mission’s departure. The Mission also intensified its coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the expectation that the agency will expand its presence in Guatemala as MINUGUA departs.
In 2003, the Mission verified advances in certain areas, including the approval of a reparations programme for the victims of human rights abuses during the armed conflict, the partial redeployment of the military, the passage of anti-discrimination legislation, and increased protection of children’s rights.
But progress in the implementation of the peace agreements still fell short of MINUGUA’s expectations. Too many governmental initiatives were inconclusive or limited in relation to the magnitude of the problems they sought to address. Advances tended to be overshadowed in the public eye by negative developments, such as the worsening public security situation, persistent corruption, obstacles in the fight against impunity and an ongoing climate of intimidation against justice officials and human rights defenders.
Although the lack of security and social unrest were of particular concern, renewed civil activism in support of the peace agreements allowed some grounds for optimism. During its final mandate, MINUGUA will support the new Government’s efforts to strengthen consensus around the peace agreements.
In 2003, the Secretary-General provided his good offices in the search for a peaceful solution to the nearly 40-year-old conflict in Colombia. The expanding conflict—which is largely fuelled by funds from the illicit drug trade—constituted a significant challenge for the United Nations agencies and programmes that have been working to alleviate its adverse humanitarian effects and address its root causes. Despite the rupture in talks between the Government and the two major guerrilla groups—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army—the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Colombia continued, through regular contacts with the Government, guerrilla groups, civil society and the international community, to provide assistance to the parties to find a comprehensive solution to the conflict.